Since the dawn of online shopping, the global eCommerce industry has seen sharp growth with each passing year, as more people turn to their computers, phones, and tablets to make purchases. This has only become more clear since the COVID-19 outbreak, which continues to affect the future of shopping in new ways every month.
By 2022, e-retail revenues are expected to grow to $6.54 trillion, up from $3.53 trillion in 2019. And there are no signs of this growth slowing down. As the public becomes more accustomed to shopping from home thanks to the cultural shifts brought on by COVID-19, we can expect to see not only a major impact on the number of online consumers,but also changes in what they expect from the eCommerce buying experience.
To stay ahead of the trends, we’ve been tracking the latest technology and online tendencies to understand what customers are looking for from the eCommerce industry. And now, we’re happy to present you with the 10 things that online shoppers will demand in 2021.
With this list, you can improve your eCommerce strategies to get ahead of your competition and increase your revenue. So let’s get started with number one!
Our first eCommerce trend has been in the works for a while, but has received a major push into the mainstream in recent years, encouraged by the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. We’re talking about the rise of green consumerism, which has dominated the minds of many buyers and has drastically shifted the production patterns of brands across the world.
As 65% of consumers say they want to buy products from brands that advocate for sustainability, brands offering sustainable products and eco-friendly practices will soon dominate the market. And this fact is pushing even the largest brands to consider their ecological footprint and hold themselves accountable for their participation in climate change.
For example, Patagonia’s year on year growth of 13% can, in part, be attributed to its openly published yearly reports which show that 45% of their products are made from renewable or recyclable materials. Even designer labels are catching on, with Armani, Gucci, and Versace all abandoning the use of fur in their products.
With the COVID-19 pandemic giving us all an opportunity to look inward and think about our own personal impact and contributions to climate change, a new kind of shopper has grown from the ashes. One whose three primary concerns are a product’s environmental cost, the possible human cost during its manufacturing, and the potential resale value of the product a few years later. Consumers are no longer attracted to fast fashion brands that provide cheap products at a high environmental cost. In fact, at least 51% of clients are willing to pay more if a product is sustainably produced.
Brands that hope to stay relevant in the current market must set themselves up with an environmental target and clearly establish the practices that they are undertaking to get there. This includes using eco-friendly packaging that is either biodegradable, recyclable, or made of recycled materials and clearly stating how products are sourced, produced, and distributed.
2. Socially Responsible Commerce
Along the same lines as sustainability, we’ve also seen a shift in the public’s interest in remaining socially conscious about the brands that they choose to support. In today’s world, gender and race discrimination are finally getting a well-deserved focus, and any brand that turns a blind eye to this fact will likely see this reflected back in their sales.
Just like with sustainability, this isn’t just important for your brand – it’s also important for the world. And there are many things that you can do within your eCommerce to reach today’s standards of Social Corporate Responsibility.
Be honest and transparent about the diversity within your company and your efforts to end discrimination in the workplace. Allow unique voices to represent the brand and bring their distinctive voices to the table. The more open you are, the better your customers will respond. They want to hear from you that these issues are important. So, the more you allow that to live within your online presence, the better you’ll connect with them.
A great example is well-loved ice cream brand, Ben & Jerry’s, which is constantly promoting diversity and social issues across their marketing efforts. So much so that fans of the brand are becoming super fans just for their honesty and dedication to social responsibility.
3. Voice Commerce
Now that we’ve explored how social issues will affect eCommerce preferences in 2021, it’s time to take a glimpse at the future of technology and what it will bring to online shopping. One of the main trends that we see on the horizon is the use of voice technology in eCommerce.
Already 20% of smart speaker owners are using their devices for shopping-related activities, and this figure is expected to more than double to 52% within the next 4 years. What’s more, 75% of U.S. households will have smart speakers by 2025, with voice commerce sales projected to reach $40 billion by 2022.
These huge numbers indicate that the average consumer will expect their favorite brands to be optimized for voice search, making it easier to find their favorite products without lifting a finger. This means that online stores should enrich their buying journey with voice search by optimizing their top-level conversion funnel content to incorporate answers to common questions surrounding products or markets.
For example, having an up-to-date FAQ page makes it far more likely that your brand will appear in voice searches. Get one step ahead of this technological shift by optimizing your online assets now so that you don’t miss out on a single sale.
4. Omni-channel potential
It’s not only important to optimize your website for voice search – it’s also crucial to be fully prepared for mobile and tablet browsing. An omni-channel online store is another customer demand that will help you make every sale that comes your way.
Considering the impact the Coronavirus pandemic has had on drastically decreasing visits to physical shops, it’s more important than ever to ensure your online store is as user-friendly as possible across all platforms. This is highlighted by the fact that trust in handheld devices is growing year on year. And by the end of 2021, mobile devices are expected to make almost 73% of total ecommerce sales.
How well-optimized is your website for mobile shopping? Check for yourself with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, an easy way of monitoring whether your store is accessible on mobile devices. This can help you ensure a smooth checkout process for users, no matter the device they’re using.
When it comes down to it, an omni-channel experience means that your customers have more ways to develop a relationship with your brand. Now the question is, what can you do to deepen that relationship in 2021?
5. A closer customer-brand relationship through User Generated Content
Providing multiple options for coming in contact with your brand is important, but so is ensuring that customers are engaged with your content and products once they find you. This can all be achieved with the help of a User Generated Content strategy, which will become increasingly more effective in 2021.
This is due in part to the COVID-19 outbreak, which has accelerated social media usage and helped bolster our ‘social shopping’ culture. When brands lean into virtual engagement through practices like User Generated Content, especially during this pandemic, they see the results in their numbers.
Take Portuguese jeans brand, Salsa Jeans. They’ve spent the past few years leveraging an authentic UGC shopping experience to better connect with their international base of customers. By collecting this content and posting it into galleries and carousels on their website, they provide customers with the social proof they need to convert.
So when COVID-19 forced the world to spend more time online, Salsa Jeans saw an opportunity to enhance their UGC strategy amidst a pandemic. They adapted their content, tailoring it to the experiences of their customers – and it worked. During the month of April 2020, the brand saw a 17.27% increase in conversion rate, showing that customers are interested in seeing this humanity within the brand, especially as we continue to migrate more of our shopping interactions online.
This kind of strategy is easy to execute with the help of a User Generated Content platform, which enables brands to collect, organize, publish, and analyze their content all in one place.
6. Artificial Intelligence
What other eCommerce technologies will customers expect in 2021? As customers get increasingly fed-up with the deluge of irrelevant marketing emails flooding their inbox, eCommerces will need to think about how they reach customers in 2021. And this means providing a more tailored approach that keeps their personal needs in mind.
Luckily, AI technology can personalize the online buying experience, offering specific recommendations through an analysis of a customer’s previous purchasing history. With customized recommendations and highly relevant discounts thanks to AI, you’re far more likely to convert.
Not sure where to get started? Why not try some visual search AI that gives customers even more ways to find the products they’re looking for. Plus, deep tagging technology can enhance how your brand is found online.
7. Augmented Reality
Alongside AI personalization, customers will be itching to use other advanced technologies to immerse themselves in the world of a brand. As customers become less likely to visit physical stores in a post-pandemic world, Augmented Reality will also become integral to the customer experience online.
Whether it’s trying clothes on virtually or imagining how a piece of furniture will look in your own home, the opportunities for this technology are almost limitless.
ASOS, for example, recently released an AR app, Virtual Catwalk, where users can point their phone at any flat surface and view models walking in front of them. This kind of technology will enable users to have a much better idea of how to use a product in their own lives.
We’ve talked about the importance of sustainability, but Recommerce is another way that your brand can leverage this popular interest in today’s eCommerce world.
This is because the second-hand market is set to double in the next 5 years as consumers look for more sustainable options, such as second-hand luxury items. Plus, 79% of people surveyed during the Coronavirus pandemic said they had plans to slash their clothing budget over the next year.
We already know that consumers are looking for more sustainable options, meaning that the resale market is experiencing a boom. In fact, it’s up from $7 billion in 2019 to an estimated $36 billion by 2024 due to its affordability and sustainability.
In 2019, resale was already growing 25% faster than the broad retail sector, according to a First Research report. And between 2019 and 2021, the Second-hand eCommerce market will have experienced an estimated growth of 69% – meaning it will be high-up on the list of demands for online consumers next year. We’ve also seen the growth in peer to peer platforms, with eCommerce rental on the rise.
Not all brands can change their business model to fit the Recommerce standard, but you can bring this ideal into the way you produce and market your products. Instead of using brand-new materials, why not outsource second-hand items to produce your products? This kind of thinking is what will help brands stand out, attract customers in 2021, and help better the world in the process.
9. Visual and written customer reviews remain the most important feature for converting
Across the board, we’ve seen that customer reviews have continued to be viewed as the most important converting feature that you can have in your eCommerce. Through our own research, we’ve seen this same trend in countries across the world. Here, we look at France as an example.
Based on a 2020 report that we conducted on eCommerce in France, 82% of French women and 69% of French men find that customer reviews help them make a decision while shopping online. This is the same across all income brackets and almost all age groups, except for those above 54 who are more likely to find Prices/Discounts useful in the decision making process.
We see the same results when French customers land on the product page. The most valued feature on a product page for French people is written customer reviews. Plus, 61% of young French people are inspired to convert when they see real images of people from social media on product pages.
Finally, our study found that the French market is willing to take the post-purchase action of leaving a customer review. Meaning that if you present this option to your customers, we’ve seen that they’ll be willing to share a review on your site. And we’ve seen similar results within other countries across the world.
So if you haven’t started integrating a review strategy into your eCommerce, you may want to. You can do this with a visual UGC integration, a written approach, or a mixture of both. Whatever you decide, customers are becoming more and more reliant on customer reviews as the new word-of-mouth. And the longer you wait, the more your competitors will be generating high-converting reviews that just might sway your would-be customers.
10. Ease of purchase, better delivery options, and quality customer service
This may seem like a no-brainer, but the online customers of 2021 will be expecting the most convenient purchase process possible. This means a spotlight on express checkout (less than 4 clicks to make a purchase!), top-notch delivery options, and the best customer support.
Whatever you do, make sure that you’re using comprehensive language and design to ensure that the customer understands the process of making a purchase. Allow them to easily save their data for future purchases and give them delivery options that will get them excited for their purchase to arrive.
And if they have problems receiving a product, you better cover your back with incredible customer service – including a number of ways for customers to reach your team directly. While email and phone are still favorable options, there’s been a huge increase in providing an online chat for customers to instantly receive assistance. It helps people to feel like your brand is there to provide this support whenever they need it, so consider adding this option with a tool like Drift or Botmind.
And there you have it: those are the 10 things that customers will demand from eCommerces in 2021. Let us know if you think we’ve missed something in the comments below, then get yourself prepared today so that you can start converting from day one!